New Blog Post—Another look at the Latino market

Rob Kimmett, SVP Marketing, New England Credit Union Services, LLC

Prior to the recession, the senior managers and directors at credit unions in the northeast spent a fair amount of time trying to get a handle on ways that they could make their credit unions, and credit unions in general, more visible and more appealing to the Latino community.  While the recession and the subprime crisis forced all of us to realign strategic priorities, the importance of the Latino community in our market remains constant.

At a recent meeting of the League’s Marketers Network, a group of marketers sat down to discuss the importance of learning about and  addressing the needs of the Latino community.  We were fortunate to have the General Manager of New England’s largest Spanish language television stations, Alex von Lichtenberg, SVP of Entravision join us.   He shared insights gained in his over 20 years of experience with WUNI Chanel 27 in Boston and Worcester and their various online properties.  He also presented some intriguing research data.

We also were fortunate to have a panel of credit union marketers on hand that have been actively engaged with the Latino population in their various communities.  These folks, Saritan Rizzuto from Metro Credit Union, Millie Zayas from RTN Federal Credit Union, and Tim Draper from Navigant Credit Union, provided the group with a great deal of information.

Three ideas really stuck in my mind, out of the dozens that were shared by the speakers and the network.  They were:

Latinos are Younger
In the Boston market (DMA), the median age of Latinos is 29.  The median age of a non-Latino is 42.  The median age of a credit union member is 47.

We spend a lot of time in our business talking about how we need to lower the average age of our membership.  The math speaks for itself.

The Latino Market is Diverse in Many Ways
We understand that the Latino market is diverse with regard to country of origin (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, etc.), but we don’t tend to consider the other important factors that stratify a market, such as age, income, and lifestyle or psychographics.

It turns out that fewer than 15% of individuals that are Latino fit in the New Arrivals category, but that is the category that we concentrate most of our attention on when we discuss this market.  These are the folks that don’t speak English at all or may not have green cards.  Credit unions, to their great credit, do a great deal to meet the needs of these folks.

What I think we may be losing sight of though, especially here in the northeast is the valuable opportunity that the other 85% of the Latino population offers us.  These folks range from nearly completely assimilated (Americanzado) to established but still more comfortable speaking Spanish (Hispano).  These families have disposable incomes and need the same financial services that all of your other members do and they need them right now!

Latinos Make Great Credit Union Members
The Latino consumers exhibit traits that we would love to see in all of our members. 

  1. Experts state repeatedly that Latino consumers seek deep relationships based on trust with the sellers of products and services.  They want someone to explain the nuances of products and help them get what is best for them and their families.  This invitation to build a long term consultative relationship is marketing nirvana.
  2. When Latinos make a large purchase (homes, cars, furniture, etc.), the whole family gets involved.  This type of mindset should be very appealing to credit unions that are working hard to market the credit union to the families of existing members.
  3. Latinos are far less likely to use a credit union now than non-Latinos.  Why is that good? Among Latinos there is a much larger untapped market.

Service to immigrant populations is part of the DNA of credit unions and that is especially true of credit unions in New England.  We should constantly be on the lookout for ways to embrace this opportunity.